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We need to discuss issues, not take cheap shots

As we approach the 2012 election cycle, perhaps the most important election in my 63 years, Americans need to consider the real issues facing this country.

We need to discuss these difficult issues and not merely focus on 'jingleisms' and 20-second soundbites. We, the people, must debate these issues no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. Please continue to believe that resolute compromise can be achieved among reasonable people. This election will determine what kind of country we want to live in for the foreseeable future. America is at the tipping point.

An opinion was offered regarding the nature of 'the poor' in America in the Lake Oswego Review recently - a column proffered to enlighten and spark community interest. Entitlement programs are but one significant issue to discuss when our country has a massive and ever-growing national debt. Instead of a debate, a respondent took a cheap shot at the author without taking issue with the facts previously published. Sometimes the truth hurts. When a position is taken, it is no longer acceptable merely to attack the messenger. This tactic is the bastion of the pseudo-intellectual coward. We can have honest and even heated debate without questioning intent, intelligence, compassion, political affiliations, etc. This is still America after all - right?

Allow me to expand on the entitlement issue. In my family, government welfare was known as charity and not a 'right.' Charity was to be offered to the truly needy not because any government body so mandated, but because it was a selfless act taught by parents and usually organized at the community level. Today, 36 states require drug testing of welfare recipients. When drug testing is initiated, a policy at which the ACLU takes umbridge, the welfare census plummets.

Another current issue is whether Social Secutiy is, in fact, a ponzi scheme. Well, in the most clinical definition, yes it is. This doesn't mean that it should be abandoned, especially for those approaching retirement who have for many years incorporated this program as part of their retirement plan and who have already qualified. But, it is clear that Social Security is no longer economically self sustaining. With regard to Medicare, this program will most likely need to be modified no matter how much one has already contributed.

Our world is changing. Let's get ahead of these issues before they bury us.

Noel R. Wolfe is a resident of Lake Oswego.